Sunday, February 26, 2012

Dhongi Baba?

Last weekend, while I was out for my morning stroll, I overheard a group of elderly uncles talking about a supposedly gifted man, in a village called jhajjar, who can cure virtually all diseases and disorders with simple pressing of nerves. In a country like India, it is not uncommon for these miracle men to pop up in far-flung places. But what got me going was the fact that the people I saw talking come from a well- educated, financially sound section of the society. So the rest of the week was spent in gathering more information.
My findings: A man of around 50, he does something similar to accue pressure with a plier-like instrument. He talks of being blessed by a ‘guru’ two years back when he used to go for ‘sewa’ near rishikesh. The blessings, he claims, have empowered him to cure all ailments. From diabetes, to blood pressure, to simple coughs and colds, you name it and he knows which nerve to press. His patients range from an ordinary villager to people rich enough to own flashy cars. He cures all…from the illiterate to the over-literate (I just coined that term).
My basic question is; what makes educated people go to him? Why this blind faith in someone? The case under question is just an example…there are tons of similar examples. When doctors advise diabetic patients with sugar levels as high as 400 (PP) to get admitted in the hospital, why do these patients come knocking at his door? Why do they risk so much? How can they just stop taking there medicines on the word of someone who is, technically, not even a doctor?
I talked to nearly a dozen people and not one of them was able to supply me an answer. All of them are on strict diet control and exercise regularly (They are regulars at my park). I got answers ranging from “he is a gifted man” to “I wanted to get rid of my medicines.” So did all of them just play a huge gamble with their life at stake? Mind you…I am not questioning their wisdom.
I have always known India as a land of superstitions. We don’t walk forth if a cat crosses our path. We still believe that a ‘mangali’ girl will bring catastrophe on her family, if married to a ‘non mangalik’ boy. Many communities do not practice birth control measures simply because they consider children to be God’s gift. While in other places, the girl child is killed wantonly. Why are we such a people?
In this particular case, it might be because the allopathic world has no permanent cure for a specific disease. You become medicine-slaves. Or people might not trust the medicines being prescribed by doctors who often burn a hole in their pockets. Word of mouth and common gossip might be another reason. The last reason being simple desperation, the desperation to get a better life without much effort. After all, it does seem appealing to visit him once a week and get rid of all our medicines. The last one is the strongest bait. Who doesn’t like to be fit? And when something like this turns up, the general attitude of ‘try kar lete hain’ prevails. But ‘trying’ with such high risks…I wonder if it is feasible…
Another reason might be the positive publicity they get. If he cures even five out of ten people, those five will get him twenty more patients. The other unlucky half, doesn’t say much. They are afraid of being taken as ‘literate fools’. All in all, there is no negative publicity. Slowly and steadily, the followers grow in number. This phenomenon can almost be a subject for effective business marketing strategies. Imagine a business model with guaranteed expansion with no expenditure on publicity. Seems utopian. But it is happening now and here, in the real living world.
I know I have put up a lot of questions with barely any answers. The explanations for such irresponsible human behavior will never be enough. In the past week, I’ve thought of a thousand different reasons and systematically shot them down. It might be because I haven’t experienced it yet. But trust me, I don’t even want to be a part of it. Rather I’d like to keep myself apart from it.
I just want to appeal to your common sense... can someone really do what medicines can’t? maybe…in singular cases. The dictionary calls them ‘miracles’. But folks…miracles don’t happen everyday.
Dhongi baba or not…is for you to decide… 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Someone Should Have Taught Him

I read this poem years back. I cried the first time I read it and it still draws those tears from my eyes..

I went to a birthday party
but I remembered what you said.
You told me not to drink at all,
so I had a Sprite instead.

I felt proud of myself,
the way you said I would,
that I didn't choose to drink and drive,
though some friends said I should.

I knew I made a healthy choice and
your advice to me was right
as the party finally ended
and the kids drove out of sight.

I got into my own car,
sure to get home in one piece,
never knowing what was coming,
something I expected least.

Now I'm lying on the pavement.
I can hear the policeman say,
"The kid that caused this wreck was drunk."
His voice seems far away.

My own blood is all around me,
as I try hard not to cry.
I can hear the paramedic say,
"This girl is going to die."

I'm sure the guy had no idea,
while he was flying high,
because he chose to drink and drive
that I would have to die.

So why do people do it,
knowing that it ruins lives?
But now the pain is cutting me
like a hundred stabbing knives.

Tell my brother not to be afraid,
tell Daddy to be brave,
and when I go to Heaven to
put "Daddy's Girl" on my grave.

Someone should have taught him
that it's wrong to drink and drive.
Maybe if his Mom and Dad had,
I'd still be alive.

My breath is getting shorter,
I'm getting really scared.
These are my final moments,
and I'm so unprepared.

I wish that you could hold me,Mom,
as i lie here and die.
I wish that I could say
I love you and good-bye.

Retold by Jane Watkins in "chicken soup for the teenage soul"

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A River...

This is the story of a River... I couldn't help but see the similarities with human life...Feels like my story is her story and her story mine...

Picture Courtesy: Amit Bansal

Woke up in the arms of a glacier
The world around me chilled
Stumbling on my feet, I learned how to flow
 My little heart, it thrilled...

I tumbled down the hillside
Falling at great speed
No cares, no worries in my world
To nothing did I pay heed...

I shrieked with joy
Made gurgling sounds
My waters sparkled bright
Untouched by the seed of greed...

One heart-wrenching fall later
I hit the plains
No boulders to play around
The mountains had given way to new terrain...

Slowed my pace a little
Carefully maneuvering the way
Standing at crossroads of my life
Unsure where to go...

But decisions I did take
To go East or West
Not aware that they would decide
Whether I meet the Bay or the Ocean...

I made friends with the flowers
Made a pact with the trees
Found new life within me
And carried all of them along...

Carried this family on my onward journey
Through the plains to the sea
I grew up to live for others
To return more than I got...

One fine day Nature halted me in my tracks
Gone was the energy of my youth
The flowers, the trees all left me alone
As I moved towards my heavenly abode...

To meet my salty end
I flowed on
Reflecting on the past
Thinking of all that I'd gathered...

And then I felt the tremors
The greetings being sent out
At that moment i realized, It is just a beginning
A whole new world awaits me...

Sunday, February 5, 2012


Picture Courtesy: Amit Bansal

A girl alone
Cold winter night
Sitting on a park bench
Looking up at the sky...

Wondering why life took the turn it did
Thinking why she is a disappointment to everyone
She was once the shining star
Those days seem unreal, far...

She was Daddy's Girl
As her Mom would say
The same Dad now seems to keep her at bay
He snapped the strings binding them
Leaving her senseless, to find her own way...

She fails to understand
Why her life is headed towards failure
She tries to do it right
To confirm to the norms...

Why is then she still a disappointment?
Why do they make her feel unwanted, unwelcome?
What is it that irks them so?
Alas! She has  never found an answer...

She used to cry her eyes out
Deeply pained by screams and shouts
Words that scarred her little heart
Wounds deep, they will heal hard...

But that stage has long since passed by
Those endless tear wells have run dry
A numbing emptiness in her heart
Is all that is left after the good times did depart...

It fills her days and her nights
Each wave pulling her under
The ocean of grief and anger
Her strength ebbing, she is giving up the fight...

So there she sits, the lonely girl
Cold winter night, on a park bench
Looking up at the sky, wondering aloud
"Why God? Do you really want me to live?"...